This species is known from a single threat-defined location that includes Morningside and the adjacent Handapan Ella Plains, on the eastern side of the Sinharaja World Heritage Site in southwestern Sri Lanka, from 1,060-1,270 m asl (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005). It is probably restricted to this area, which is comprised of a single large forest remnant that is surrounded by a deforested matrix. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 63 km
Habitat and Ecology
It is found only in closed-canopy forests and cardamom plantations within cloud forests. All originally described specimens were collected from a cardamom plantation, from one to two metres above the ground, while perched on shade trees (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005). It breeds by direct development and is not dependent upon water.
It is threatened by the loss of forest canopy for expansion of cardamom and tea plantations at the expense of cloud forest habitat, clearing of undergrowth, collection of firewood, and human settlement. Changing agricultural practices within cardamom plantations could also negatively affect this species, particularly the increased use of agro-chemicals.
It is found in the Sinharaja World Heritage Site (the largest remnant of Sri Lanka's forests, which was inscribed in 1988) and the Morningside Forest Reserve that borders the eastern margin of the World Heritage Site. Morningside receives some level of government protection, but is not an official conservation area (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). While the government has purchased much of the land around Morningside, there is still pressure from land use within the reserve; a tea plantation operates at the centre of the reserve and there is illegal clearing of understory to establish small parcels for cardamom cultivation (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). There is need for improved protection of the area, and incorporation of Morningside into the contiguous Sinharaja World Heritage Site would help prevent future loss of remaining forest habitat (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). Research is needed to better understand its life history, population status and current threats.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Pseudophilautus ocularis. In: IUCN 2014